The purpose of the African Women in Cinema Blog is to provide a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma est un espace pour l'échange d'informations concernant les réalisatrices, comédiennes, productrices, critiques et toutes professionnelles dans ce domaine. Ceci sert de forum public du Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinémas.

07 October 2011

Judy Kibinge: Dangerous Affair

Judy Kibinge

Those who have followed Kenya's film history will concur with me when I refer to Judy Kibinge's 'Dangerous Affair' as probably one of the most important films in Kenya's film history. Films have been created and consumed in this country since colonial times but 'Dangerous Affair' is widely believed to have broken the mold in more ways than one. Local productions had previously consisted mainly of documentary films utilizing foreign and NGO funding. 'Dangerous Affair' offered a breath of fresh air for many who had been waiting for a fictional feature film with a local cast, story, theme and setting. And that is not all, it also discussed subjects that were considered to a certain level 'taboo' in television and film at the time and featured in leading(and seminal) roles, two female characters who did not conform to what were then societal expectations of women.
Watching the film at Goethe Institute during a homage to Judy Kibinge held a while back, the first thing that struck me was the cast. After seeing a number of them in later productions, it was great to see the likes of Nini Wacera young and fresh faced (at her prime you might say) and was a true reminder of the amazing acting talent this country holds. The story stands the test of time beautifully, leading you through the gritty underbelly of the city into dingy local pubs and common restaurants where the main character, a slightly misguided gentleman, discovers that his heart and his loins do not necessarily have the same taste. The production quality of the film is (not surprisingly) less than amazing considering the equipment and financial resources that were available at the time but it does not take away from the story at all seeming instead to place it even more comfortably within the environment of a certain tier/class of Kenyan citizenry. An economic class that the main character has built a career and a marriage to escape but that keeps drawing him back to its warm comforting bosom. A class that is symbolized and played to perfection by Serah Mwihaki's lascivious character, Rose. This is the original 'mpango wa kando' story and everyone, from the friends who fail to provide the right guidance to the husbands whose shortcomings lead their women into other 'stronger' arms; everyone has their chance to present their angle of the story. And thanks to the exemplary performances from the cast, every character leaves the audience with twenty questions to ask. Ages after it was shot and exhibited, 'Dangerous Affair' is without a doubt one of the most interesting and enjoyable Kenyan films I have ever seen. When our film industry eventually reaches the period when we start to refer to some films as classics, my first nomination for the 'classic' title will be "Dangerous Affair" without a doubt.

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